May 29, 2015 at The Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR

A conversation with Rebecca Chernow, Anna Gray + Ryan Wilson Paulsen, Jess Perlitz, Eric Steen, and Sarah Wolf Newlands. Moderated and organized by Amanda Leigh Evans.

How do the aesthetics of a materials-based practice meet a public practice? At this roundtable discussion six artists from the northwest dialogue on material knowledge, tools of social engagement, and audience participation.

Topics included:
-Where does an art practice primarily exist? In the studio, the classroom, the home, or the self?
-Can an object be inherently social? A craft object (let’s use pottery as an example) can infiltrate the intimate space of our everyday lives with a dual identity - symbolic and practical. Does social practice happen when the object is activated?
-What role can/do aesthetics play in social engagement? Are the relational aesthetics in harmony with or at odds with the visual aesthetics? Can a social atmosphere be crafted in the same way something like clay can be sculpted?
-Often in works that collaborate with a public, the material is more of a starting point. More of a tool than a goal. What does a craft lend us? What can a sculpture give me that a socially-engaged project cannot (and vice-versa)?

This event was hosted as part of Assembly 2015, a free 5-day symposium on art and social practice presented by the Art & Social Practice program at Portland State University.

Illustration by Nina Berry.